October 25, 2004
Buy one to carve. Buy one to cook.
Making pumpkin puree from scratch isn’t difficult, it’s just that opening a can is so much easier. But for learning purposes — or perhaps just to see what the homemade stuff tastes like — following are instructions for making your own puree and roasting pumpkin seeds, and tried-and-true recipes that work well throughout the holiday season.
For pumpkin puree: Cut pumpkin into pieces for cooking. Bake halves, quarters or slabs cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Remove the seeds and strings before baking. Add 1 /4 inch water to the pan and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake in a 400-degree oven until tender when pierced with a thin skewer. Halfway through the baking, pieces can be turned over with tongs, brushed with butter or mild oil and sprinkled with brown sugar and nutmeg or other spice. Allow 30 to 45 minutes for small pieces. Scrape pumpkin puree from shell.
To bake seeds: Separate the pumpkin seeds from the strings, but do not wash. Toss the seeds with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil per 1 cup seeds and a little salt, if desired. Spread the seeds on a baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees until dry, about 1 1 /2 hours. The seeds then may be seasoned and toasted in a 350-degree oven.